University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Neuroethics, Mental Health and Psychiatric Ethics

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION The first part of this study unit will seek to examine the nature of the relationship between mind and brain. A good number of contemporary neuroscientists and philosophers agree that many, if not all, aspects of mind can be understood as manifestations of brain function. Mental phenomena such as cognition, perception, emotion, and decision-taking are now become objects of scientific explanation. We will investigate whether science can indeed provide exhaustive explanations of such matters.

The second part of this study unit will attempt to discuss mental disorders, their relationship with prevailing social and cultural factors, and the complex relationship between morality, mental health, and the law. It will provide participants with a broad perspective of issues in bioethics applied to mental health and mental illness. We will also examine the history of the psychiatric profession and consider the adequacy of current safeguards against possible abuses of power.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course the student should:
a) be familiar with the nature of the relationship between mind and brain;
b) be able to identify the most important ethical debates within the mental health field, including those related to electroconvulsive treatment, mental health advanced directives and medical technology;
c) be able to formulate well-argued standpoints and positions with respect to ethical issues within mental health care;
d) understand the Mental Health Act and its application within the Maltese legal framework, and how it safeguards against abuse.

Reading List

- ATKINSON Jacqueline, Advance Directives in Mental Health: Theory, Practice and Ethics, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007.
- BENNETT M.R. & Peter HACKER, Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience, Basil Blackwell, 2003.
- BENNETT Max et al., Neuroscience and Philosophy, Columbia University Press, 2007.
- DUBOIS James M., Ethics in Mental Health Research: Principles, Guidance, and Cases, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007.
- HEIL John, Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge, 2004.
- RADDEN Jennifer, "Psychiatric Ethics", in Bioethics 16 (2002) 397-411.
- TENGLAND Per Anders, Mental Health: A Philosophical Analysis, Springer, 2002.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation Yes 40%
Assignment Yes 60%

LECTURER/S John M. Cachia
Mark Sultana
Raymond Zammit

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
Measuring Divinity - Inter Faculty Colloquium
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21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017
The 21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017 will be celebrated on the 5th and 6th December 2017 with two lectures delivered by Rev. Prof. Theodore Dieter.

Closing Date Dissertation Proposals
Deadline to present dissertation proposals for next Faculty Board is Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 1700hrs

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

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Dissertation Logbook
The Dissertation Logbook can be found here.


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